Our Treasures in Christ

By Ernie and Mary Kroeger

Our treasures consist of the things we cherish, consider valuable and important. Certain objects we only treasure because of the memories they stir up. There are earthly treasures and there are spiritual treasures. Our earthly treasures can deteriorate, become moth-eaten, be stolen or destroyed, but our heavenly treasures are lasting and abiding! Jesus said that we are to lay up treasures in heaven - the only safe place for them. Heavenly treasures do not consist of things that are in the seen realm. Jesus said that heaven is the throne of God, and we know that a throne represents the authority and rule of government. Have you ever wondered what kind of treasures we can store in heaven? What does God treasure, and what is needful and precious to Him?

In 1Thessalonians 5:2 it says that the day of the Lord comes like a thief in the night. That sounds odd, doesn’t it? A thief comes to rob us of our treasures – of our valuables. In like manner when day (the light of Christ) comes into our lives, it takes away the things that hinder our spiritual growth in order to give us true riches. When day (light) came into Paul’s life, it took away Paul’s pride in his education and in the fact that he was a Pharisee of the Pharisees! It came to take away the cherished counterfeit gems in order to give him genuine jewels!

God has given His stamp of approval on Christ. God has given Him a name that is higher than any other name. He has given Him all authority, and placed Him above all the heavens and all governments. Christ is worthy to be exalted because He was obedient to God in the most difficult and trying circumstances. In order to save humanity Jesus had to become united with sinful humanity. He had to leave the glory He had with the Father, and enter this world in the likeness of sinful flesh, yet without sin. This was the first step in His identification with sinful humanity, but it was not complete until He identified with humanity’s death because of sin. This identification took place on the cross when God put all the sins of humanity on Him and He became its sin-offering! This identification and union occurred when He cried, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me?” This was the only time that Jesus did not address God as His Father because He was speaking out of His identification with humanity. God looked at Jesus Christ as being us, and us as being in Christ. It was at this time that Jesus Christ became the corporate Christ.

This forms the basis for our union with Christ! When Jesus died He became one with sinful humanity in His identification, and the punishment for sin is death and separation from God. He humbled Himself and lowered Himself into a union with lost humanity. Therefore we can say that He died as us and for us. For this reason Paul could say that he was crucified with Christ. It is also the reason why all believers can say that they have been crucified with Christ! In this union with Christ we have also been resurrected! Christ’s resurrection proved that He had overcome death. On the cross, His union with sinful humanity made Him a corporate Man, and His victory over death brought us into a new humanity of life! How we marvel at the mystery of this great union that God has accomplished in Christ.

In the Old Testament this union was symbolized for us. Once a year, on the Day of Atonement, after the high priest had made atonement for himself and his family, he took two goats. One was offered to the Lord as a sin-offering. When he had finished atoning for the sins of the people, he took the live goat, laid both of his hands on the head of the live goat, and by confessing all the sins and transgressions of the people, they were symbolically conferred upon the goat. The goat became one with sinful Israel, and therefore it had to die by being sent out into the wilderness. This symbolized that one day Jesus would become one with sinful humanity and take away our body of sin. (Lev. 16) The two goats symbolized what took place in Christ’s death on the cross! The first goat was sacrificed as a sin-offering, and symbolized Christ’s death as a sin-offering. The second goat symbolized Christ in His identification with sinful humanity, and therefore sinful humanity was crucified together with Christ. This gives us the revelation that Jesus did not die as our substitute but as us. It is impossible for us to enter this union by our right choices or by good works. We have to be born of the Spirit! This is the work of God in Christ! Through this union with Him all the treasures in Christ become available to us! So let’s look at some of the things that are ours in Christ.

Our Spirit-directed treasure hunt reveals that Christ is our salvation. The Greek word for salvation is SOTERIA, and it denotes deliverance, preservation and salvation. It includes all the blessings bestowed on us by God through the Holy Spirit. Through our new birth we become spiritual creatures, and feeding on the truth that Christ is, causes us to grow spiritually. Receiving His sense of being frees us from our bondage to sin. Our spiritual health brings wholeness to our spirit, soul and body. Salvation is much more than having our sins forgiven and going to heaven. It is the power of God to take us out of our death in Adam, and to make us a new creation in Christ.This brings us into the life of God!

This salvation is greater than we could ever imagine! Christ is our righteousness, for He fulfilled the law completely. In Christ our past is taken away and therefore there are no sins for God to remember. Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.” (John 5:24) God’s life is pure, so there is no judgment for those who are in life! His life in us births us into a spiritual level, and we become new creatures in Christ. In 2 Cor. 5:17 we read, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” This is the highest quality of life, for it does not contain anything that is subject to corruption and decay - nothing that can grow old and perish! Since there are no components of death in it, it can never die. It is the same life of light and love and truth that is in God and Christ!

Christ is also our redemption! In Christ we are redeemed. We are not redeemed by our works, nor are we justified by our works. Everything comes to us as a gift by His grace. (Rom. 3:24) “For He delivered us from the domain (literally, authority) of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” (Col. 1:13-14) Christ becomes our redemption when we are put into Him! If we remain in Adam, we are not being redeemed. To obtain redemption we have to leave our Adamic mind – the mind that revolves around self and seeks to obtain righteousness by its own works and right choices. That mind can never be redeemed nor improved. This is difficult for us to believe, so we try to die to self while at the same time we try to improve that same self! Only God can deliver us out of our darkness, sin and despair, and transfer us into a new kingdom – a kingdom of light, life, forgiveness, and redemption! ! This new kingdom is Christ! When we are joined to Him, He becomes our redemption! We are a new creation in Christ, and this new creature has a new mind – the mind of Christ!

This is all God’s doing! Just as we have nothing to do with our physical birth, so we have nothing to do with our spiritual birth. It is God who puts us into Christ; it is His doing, not ours. Isn’t that marvelous! “But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption.” (1 Cor. 1:30) Christ, the Son, is the Seed of God, for He came out of God, and He is MADE these things to us! He is not giving these things to us; He has BECOME our wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption!

In our search for righteousness, knowledge and wisdom we often begin with a wrong premise. We want ME to become a better person, and we think that believing on Christ will accomplish this; it will make ME someone who is eligible and acceptable for admission into heaven. We are told that as a reward for our faith, generosity and good works our ME will receive good health and luxurious living on this earth, and a wonderful mansion after we die. This is the great deception - the wrong premise! We think that the ME who lives in Adam will be changed. The fruit of this thinking is very disappointing, for we find that we still yield to the desires of the flesh. We think we still need to keep the law, yet we often fail. We try to forgive, yet find resentment and anger and a desire for revenge in our heart. We feel condemned because we find it impossible to love those who mistreat us. We think our old humanity is being saved, so we try with all our might to improve that humanity; and to our utter chagrin, we find it doesn’t work! Why do we find ourselves in this conflict? It’s because we don’t know that all eternal realities are only ours in Christ, and that in Christ we are a new creation! In Christ we are taken out of the Adam man and placed into Christ. In Christ we have a new humanity!

Christ in us is our WISDOM! There is a difference between wisdom and knowledge. Knowledge is an accumulation of facts, and wisdom gives us the ability to apply that knowledge. We may learn many facts about God and Jesus Christ by reading the Bible, but if we don’t have the wisdom to use and apply that knowledge, it won’t help us. It will only inflate our ego. In Col. 2:2-3 we read, “That their hearts may be encouraged, having been knit together in love, and attaining to all the wealth that comes from the full assurance of understanding, resulting in a true knowledge of God’s mystery, that is, Christ Himself, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

Some of us like to solve mysteries. Here we have the key to obtaining true knowledge of God’s mystery. It cannot be found in the philosophies of this world’s intellectuals; it can only be found in Christ! However, a superficial scan of Christ will not help us find it, because it is hidden in Him. It has to be revealed to us! We need an intimate relationship with Christ in which He can reveal spiritual realities to us, and we see the treasures that are ours in Him. To receive this intimacy of relationship we need to give up our dependence on self and our self-will. Are we willing to pay the price of relinquishment? We can’t bargain with God! He has a fixed price. If we want true understanding and true wisdom and knowledge of God, we have to find them in Christ!

He is our RIGHTEOUSNESS! This is difficult for us to understand because we have been trained to look to our works and accomplishments to establish our worth. Even after we become Christians we think we are still sinners when we sin in some way. We think God gave us the law so we could measure our standing before God, when in actuality He gave it to us to show us our inability to keep it entirely. It is a law of sin and death! Though we could refrain from killing and stealing, there would still be the lusting of the eyes and of the flesh, and the pride of life! It is painful for us to recognize that we can’t overcome the desires of the flesh! Yet that was God’s purpose in giving us the law. He wanted us to realize our need of help. As long as we thought we could please God by our own good works, we would not want a Savior! The law showed us that God’s standard for righteousness is too high for natural man to attain, and it is folly for man to try to attain it.

In Christ we are released from our bondage to the law and from guilt, condemnation and death. In Christ we can rest from all our striving to become righteous. “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death. (Rom. 8:2) By giving us the righteousness of Christ, we have been declared righteous by God, and we can’t become more righteous by our own works. He is our SANCTIFICATION. In Christ we have been set aside for God to be used for His purpose! He is our REDEMPTION – we have been redeemed and transformed by the mind that is in Christ Jesus!

In Christ we have life, and without Him we remain dead in our transgressions and sins. In Christ we have a new nature; we don’t have to try to remake, restructure or improve our old nature. In Christ we are completely new! Christ takes us out of the sinner classification and puts us into the saint classification. If we think we remain sinners after we have been born again, it proves that we do not understand that our new birth takes us out of Adam and puts us into Christ! Instead, we think that God is just in the business of remodeling and remaking the old self that is in Adam. “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive.” (1Cor. 15:22)

Our new birth places us into God’s family, and we become His children, and as we mature we become sons of God! “Beloved, now we are children of God....For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.” (1 John 3:2; Gal. 3:26) God’s family does not consist of a mixture of ethnic groups. No one is adopted into the family of God; we all have to be born into His family! If we were not born into His family, we wouldn’t have His nature. Yet Paul has five references to adoption in his epistles. From Galatians 4:1-5 we learn the biblical meaning of adoption, and we find that it has nothing to do with the present meaning of adoption – to children being adopted into a family. It has a deeper spiritual meaning. Paul explains this by using an example with which they were well acquainted. According to their custom, children were under the guardianship of servants, but when the children became mature the tables were turned, and the servants had to obey them. This transfer into maturity is the biblical meaning of adoption. The servants symbolize the Law; in times past we were governed by the Law, but in Christ we are no longer under the Law. After Jesus was baptized and filled with the Spirit, He was over the law. He was led by the Spirit - not by the Law. In Christ we are taken out of the law of sin and death, and given the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus! In times past this transfer into maturity was called adoption.

Humanity is divided by many ethnic groups, many religions, many political views, etc. Paul sums them up in three main categories, namely: Jews (the circumcised) and Greeks (the uncircumcised), slaves and free, men and women. The expression, “circumcision and uncircumcision”, is the shorthand term used to indicate this great divide. How can they ever be united? In Christ God does an amazing thing! “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Gal. 3:28) God removes the wall that divides humanity into groups by putting everyone into the new humanity that Christ is, and we all become one body! “For neither is circumcision anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation.” (Gal. 6:15)

The dividing wall between the Jews and Gentiles consisted of the Law with all its ordinances and commandments that God had given Israel. When people live by different laws and codes of ethics, tensions build up, and they produce enmity. Humanity longs for peace, but it doesn’t know how to obtain it. Humanity’s lack does not present a problem to God. He does all things in and through Christ! “By abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace.” (Eph. 2:15)! IN Himself, IN Christ, He has established a new humanity - a humanity that includes both Jew and Gentile, and in which there is no sin and no death! There are no divisions in oneness.

In Christ we are made complete. He is the head and we are His body, and we have His life and ability flowing in and through us! “And in Him (Christ) you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority.” (Col 2:10) If we don’t believe that, we will try to add things that originate in SELF to make us complete – like the scribes and Pharisees did. Doing good things in order to improve our self-image and increase our righteousness is useless. It is impossible for us to improve the righteousness that we have in Christ. If we want to improve our standing with God by our works, we need to recognize them for what they are – works of the flesh! These works may improve our self-image, but they don’t add to the righteousness that is ours in Christ! In Col. 2:11 Paul tells us that “In Him (Christ) you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ.” This circumcision for the removal of the body of flesh cuts off the rule of the flesh in our lives. In Christ we die to sin because He has become our life! Let’s believe that we truly have all these wonderful treasures in Christ that God says we have! Everything we have in Christ has to be received by faith, and faith brings us the realization that we ARE complete in Christ. This helps us to be obedient to Christ’s rule and authority.

Then there are Christians who go to the other extreme and say they are Christ, because the scriptures speak of the Lord’s Christ. We have to remember that the body never becomes the head, and the head never becomes the body! Christ always remains the head, and the body always remains the body. The body is always dependent on the head for all its directives, and no one can replace Christ our head!

For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.” (Col. 3:3-4) We were crucified with Christ and buried in the waters of baptism with Him, and arose out of that watery grave to a new life in Christ! That life is hidden in Christ; it is only made evident when the Christ in us is revealed by our words and loving actions! It brings a revelation of the greatness, power and ability of Christ’s life to change us into His likeness. Our submission and obedience to His will brings glory to God!

All the promises of God are in Christ, the anointing. “Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and anointed us is God.” (2 Cor. 1:21) The Spirit of truth establishes us in Christ, and He teaches us all things and leads us into all truth. God has anointed us through Jesus Christ. Without the anointing we cannot learn and understand spiritual truth, neither can we know God, Christ, and ourselves. The Bible gives us a testimony about these things, but the Spirit has to make them real to us! It is impossible for the natural mind to receive the things of the Spirit; therefore we need a new mind – the mind of Christ. God has given us the Spirit as a down payment or pledge and foretaste of that which is to come. Christ Jesus operated in the fullness of the Spirit, and this brings us an inkling of what God has in store for us.

In John 14 Jesus told His disciples that He was going to prepare an abiding place for them. He was present in His physical body when He said, “that where I am, there you may be also.” He did NOT say, “That where I am going, you may go also.” Where was Jesus at that time? He was on planet earth, doing the will of the Father in perfect submission to Him and in intimate relationship with the Father. This is where he wanted the disciples to be! The disciples could not have that same relationship with the Father at that time because the Spirit had not yet been poured out. They had not yet been born of the Spirit and filled with the Spirit. Before this intimate relationship could take place, Jesus Christ had to die, be resurrected, and then pour out His Spirit on the disciples. Christ prepared a place in Himself where all believers can have that same relationship with the Father that He was enjoying! Our new birth makes us a spiritual creation in Christ! While we are living on planet earth we can have the same relationship with the Father that Christ had when He was on earth.

Jesus said, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him.” (John 14:23) At this present time, while we are still in our physical body, we are to understand that we are in God, and God and the Son have come and made their abode with us. What an amazing thing that God has made us His dwelling place! A dwelling place is not a hotel or an exotic place we visit for a few days. It is our home! He does not only visit us; He lives in us! This is not our doing; it is God’s doing! IN CHRIST we are built into a dwelling place of God. “Having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.” (Eph. 2:20-22) In Christ we are a place for God to dwell. Isn’t it wonderful to know that we have been baptized into the body of Christ and that we are members of His body! “So we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually, members one of another.” (Rom. 12:5)

A healthy spiritual body needs the right spiritual food for maintenance and growth, and Christ is that spiritual food and drink! Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life; and I will raise him up on the last day. For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink.” (John 6:53-55) This passage is misunderstood by most Christians. They know that in the natural it is impossible to eat the flesh of Jesus and drink His blood, so they substitute a wafer for the flesh of Jesus and some wine for His blood. They think that these elements are actually being transformed into the body and blood of Christ. This is the superstition of paganism because the symbolism is not understood. In fact Jesus explained that the food we eat goes into the body and then passes out again. It does not change who we are. God gets at the source of our problem and changes us from the inside!

So what did Jesus mean when He said that we must eat His flesh? His body is a body of truth; He said, “I am the truth.” In order to receive truth we have to let go of the lie we formerly thought was truth. For example, let’s say that we thought God was angry at us and He was always waiting for an opportunity to punish us. This lie was our truth. Then we learned that God was not angry at us when we read 2 Cor. 5:19. “Namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation”. In fact, He was the One who initiated and performed the reconciliation process. The word reconciled means that two parties are against each other, so we concluded that God was angry at us. Again, the translators have given us the wrong translation. The Literal Concordant has correctly translated it as conciliated. We learned that we needed to be conciliated to God, because the enmity was on our part – not on God’s! To receive this truth we have to let go of our former belief about God. To eat the flesh of Jesus means that we feed on the truth and life that He is! This changes us!

How do we drink His blood? Blood symbolizes the soul. Our soul is our sense of being, and it is comprised of our thinking, will, and emotions. Christ’s soul is pure; it does not contain any wrong thoughts. Christ only desired to do the will of His Father. He loved unconditionally, and forgave even before He was asked to forgive! As we drink in the soul of Christ (His blood)) we too will only desire to do the will of the Father. His sense of being IN us transforms us, and we are raised up on the last day! What is the last day? Many think it is the last day of our physical life, but it is the last day of being in the old humanity! Our new birth raises us out of our death in Adam, and places us into the life of Christ – an endless, pure and immortal life.

Christ did not have any life apart from the Father - and neither do we! In Christ we are joined to God; we are united with Him; we are part of Him! We have received His life! The Father is the source of our life! There is no true life apart from Him! It’s wonderful to have the assurance that nothing can separate us from His love! Absolutely nothing! Nothing “will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom. 8:39)

In Christ the love of God is demonstrated! “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:16) Since God is invisible to our eyes, we cannot know who He is unless He reveals Himself to us. God revealed the greatness of His love for us by sending us His only begotten Son to suffer and die and be resurrected, so that in Christ we could be raised out of our death due to sin, and receive the life of God, for it has no sin! The Man Christ Jesus was an exact image and representation of the invisible God. Since people could see Jesus when He lived on earth, He brought a revelation of the true God to a lost humanity. However, humanity imagined God to be different, so it rejected and crucified the true representation of God! This revealed the immeasurable love of God for a lost humanity because He knew this would happen to His beloved Son. Even today, many still think that God only loves them when they are good. Yet God has demonstrated His love for us by sending Jesus to die for us while we were still sinners, entertaining wrong thoughts about Him and being hostile toward Him. If we cannot believe that He loves us, we have a false image of our wonderful God of LOVE.

A false image of Christ nurtures a physical Jesus Christ. This causes us to return to the old covenant with its laws and condemnation. We will wait for a physical Jesus to come back to earth and establish His righteous reign from Jerusalem. A physical Jesus presents some problems, for how can a physical Jesus be within each one of us, and how can a physical Jesus be omnipresent? That would be impossible! We are no longer to see Him according to the flesh. We are to have a spiritual image of Christ. He is lifted up from the earth when He ascends out of our earthy concept of Him. The Lord is the Spirit, and people have to be drawn to who He truly is! Drawing people to the physical natural concept of Jesus is simply religion. Seeing Jesus as a physical man is the veil that keeps people from seeing the true Christ. It is lifted when we begin to think with the mind of Christ. Paul writes, “But their minds were hardened; for until this very day at the reading of the old covenant the same veil remains unlifted, because it is removed in Christ.” (2 Cor. 3:14) Christ is the anointing, and a hardened mind will not receive the Spirit’s teaching. Only as we listen to the teaching of the Spirit is the veil lifted from our eyes!

Our natural mind will always lead us astray, for it caters to the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life. When Adam and Eve obeyed the serpent, it proved that they were soulish beings, for they were not led by the Spirit. In their disobedience, they received the serpent’s thinking. The serpent instilled in them the idea that in dependence on their own ability they could become like God. Listening to our natural mind brings us into a dependence on SELF instead of on Christ. Paul wrote, “But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.” (2 Cor. 11:3) Only by fixing our eyes on Christ and listening to Him, are we kept from the serpent’s wily ways! One of the serpent’s cunning devices is to get us back into the law for righteousness. This happened to the Galatian Christians and it can also happen to us. “But it was because of the false brethren secretly brought in, who had sneaked in to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, in order to bring us into bondage.” (Gal. 2:4) Laws cannot change us, and they take away the liberty that we have in Christ. Laws bring us into bondage, and truth frees us from our bondage to the law.

In Christ we can overcome every difficulty and temptation. We often fail because we depend on our own ability and focus on the seemingly impossible circumstance, or yield to the lust of the eyes and of the flesh, and refuse to humble ourselves! “But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place.” (2 Cor. 2:14) Christ triumphed in the most difficult trials because His only desire was to do the will of the Father! The cost to His self-image was never too great, for His self-image was in the Father! We need to transfer our identification with Adam to our true identification, which is Christ. Even as Christ’s self-image was in the Father so our self-image needs to be in Christ. In Christ, His triumph becomes our triumph!

In Christ, God has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places. (Eph. 1:3) Let’s notice that God has already blessed us with every spiritual blessing! Spiritual blessings are in the unseen realm, yet we tend to look for them in the physical realm. Ignorance and lack of faith will keep us from believing this. We don’t need to strive to obtain them, for He has blessed us with them! God is not withholding His blessings from us; they are ours in Christ! Since everything in Christ is in the unseen realm, everything has to be received by faith!

Without faith we will remain infants; we won’t grow into maturity! Paul could not speak to the Corinthian Christians as to mature Christians. (1 Cor. 3:1) Even though they enjoyed the gifts of the Spirit, they still focused on the natural or fleshly desires. Divisions, jealousy and immorality were present in the church. Why? Because they had not availed themselves of the blessings that are ours in Christ! If we do not dwell in the mind of Christ, we will revert to self-effort and the keeping of laws to change us. This kills love and brings us into servitude.

In Christ the power of God was demonstrated when He raised Christ from the dead, and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places. (Eph. 1:20) Today His power is demonstrated when He raises us up with Him, and seats us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus! Think of the power it takes to overcome death, and to bring us into eternal life - into immortality! We call this resurrection power! God’s power is made manifest in His ability to sum up all things in the heavens and on earth in Christ! (Eph. 1:10)

His power is manifested in His ability to change us into creatures that praise His glory, and His wisdom is manifested in the fact that our complete salvation is due to His work! (Eph. 1:12) If we were in charge we would mess things up! Israel demonstrated this, and we are not any better. In the new covenant God has planned and ordained that all spiritual blessings have to come to us in Christ! This ensures perfection; self-effort always mars and discredits God’s work! We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus! (Eph. 1:10) This is so difficult for us to accept. We show our desire for accreditation by saying that we are Christians because we invited Jesus to come into our hearts, or because we made a right choice. If this were true, then we would have something to boast about. The scriptures tell us that we don’t have any reason to boast – but how we enjoy boasting! No wonder God points out our need to humble ourselves! Everything comes to us from God in Christ! Even our ministry and works are prepared for us by God! In Christ there is no hierarchy!

God, in His wisdom, had everything planned beautifully from the beginning! Since God knows everything, He did not include plans for an eventuality that something might misfire. He knew humanity would fail, and He knew all the anguish and sorrow that would follow. He knew all about humanity’s pride and selfishness! God also knew that all this would be overcome in Christ because He had the power to perform His will! He planned the formation and purpose of the church. He planned the good works we were to do; He planned our ministry! Works and ministry that have their origin in self, and promote self, are not of God. They are dressed in the good that comes from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, but this tree is rooted in disobedience. It is very sad that many Christians cannot recognize the difference between the good from that tree and the good from the tree of life.

Here are some verses that teach us about God’s eternal plan. “So that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places. This was in accordance with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Eph. 3:10-11) “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” (Eph. 2:10) “Who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity.” (2 Tim. 1:9)

God also planned to conciliate all things to Himself in Christ. Often we are told that God is angry at us, but when He sees us in Jesus, He can love us. This is utter nonsense. God loved us when we were yet sinners; He was in Christ conciliating the world to Himself. We were the ones who needed to be conciliated to God, - NOT God to us! “For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile(conciliate) all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.” (Col. 1:19-20) God is love - and love always wants the best for everyone! It would be against the very essence of God’s being to bring a humanity into existence that He knew would later be tortured in a physical fire for all eternity (as many claim). God’s promise to subject all things to Christ would be wishful thinking if He were unable to perform His will. Humanity’s pride has coined the philosophy that God will honor man’s free will, and let him go to his doom. That is not love! We are so blessed to know that the scriptures teach otherwise. For example, God stepped into the life of Saul of Tarsus and changed his destiny. The scriptures reveal that He also did this in the lives of many others, and He does this for us as well! God has promised that all things in heaven and on earth and under the earth will proclaim “Jesus Christ as Lord to the glory of God the Father”! (Phil. 2:9-10) If this proclamation would be forced and proclaimed through clenched teeth, it would not bring glory to the Father. In 1 Cor. 12:3 we read that “no one can say, ` Jesus Christ is Lord,’ except by the Holy Spirit.”

In the world there are many divisions. We hear people speak of an upper, middle and lower class, of whites and blacks, of the educated and uneducated, etc. In the Old Testament, God made a covenant with the Israelites, and they were called God’s chosen people, and given circumcision as a sign. This meant that the uncircumcised were excluded from this covenant. “But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off (namely, the Gentiles) have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” (Eph. 2:13) In Christ these divisions disappear. In Galatians 3:28 we read, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” The hierarchy of the world, with its divisions and enmity, has no place in Christ. In Him we have peace, love and joy!

Israel knew that they were a nation chosen of God, with their special sign of circumcision. It symbolized the cutting off of all the desires of the flesh, but Israel did not understand this, so they had a lot of confidence and pride in having been circumcised. The outward signs of religiosity have no meaning in Christ. Paul wrote, “For we are the true circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh.” (Phil. 3:3) In Christ the outward forms are done away, and everything takes place in the spiritual realm. True worship of God is manifested in our obedience to His word, not by our posture or hand movements, etc. It does not have to take place in a special building; it takes place within us!

In Christ we lose our sinner status. Paul’s epistles were not written to sinners, but to saints. For example, he wrote “to all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi….” (Phil. 1:1) In Christ we have stability of faith (Col. 2:5), for He is the author and finisher of our faith. God does not reveal His mysteries to sinners, but to saints. “To whom (the saints) God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” (Col. 1:27) The human mind cannot understand this! The glory of having Christ in us is beyond our ability to comprehend!

God makes His will known to us in Christ. “In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thess. 5:18) God wants us to know that He is sovereign and that He will work all things (both good and evil) for our good as we continue to love and trust Him! Therefore we can give thanks in every situation. I well remember the time in 1986 when I was trying to help a Christian young man out of China. Everything seemed to be working against us. The custom’s officer refused to let him come with me, and told him to come back in the morning. By then my visa would have expired, and it would take at least three days to get a new visa, plus a lot of money to return. There was also the danger that his unit would discover his absence and stop him from leaving China. I prayed to God and said, “I know you are never too late, but it surely feels as though you are.” Then the Lord spoke to me and said, “Tell them that you are an old woman.” I was nearing the 70 mark, but I did not consider myself old. At that moment the man in charge came out of his office and sat down at the table behind me. I turned around, and told him that I was an old woman, and would he please reconsider his former verdict. In about 5 minutes we were through! This experience of seeing God’s ability in the midst of a crisis, has been a great blessing in our lives! God makes the impossible a blessing, so we can give thanks in everything!

Christ Jesus was the perfect representation of the invisible God! By faith we receive His life and His nature. Everything we are in Him comes to us by faith. Without faith it is impossible to please Him, and everything that is not of faith is sin. In order to experience His life in us we have to have the same attitude of humility and desire to only do the will of the Father that was in Christ Jesus! (Phil.2:5) This is only possible when we understand that this is the work of Christ in us! As we feed on TRUTH, we will grow and mature, and be changed into the image of Christ! If we do this, we will be misunderstood and rejected, even as Jesus Christ was. “Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” (2 Tim. 3:12) When this occurs, let us rejoice that we have been considered worthy to suffer for His name.

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